How Fighters Burn Fat & Keep Their Muscle

Today, Chad Howse will show us how to burn fat while maintaining – and even gaining – metabolically active muscle. However, Chad doesn’t bring your average perspective on getting ripped…

Not only has he written for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, a bunch of other publications, he’s a former boxer who’s going to reveal the best kept secrets of a sport that has created the most shredded athletes for the past 100 years.

So while most will tell you that you can to lose muscle to burn fat, Chad’s going to show us how boxers cut up to 40 pounds of fat in their 3 month training camp. Be sure to follow Chad over on Facebook and Twitter Now I’ll let Chad take it from here… ~Vince

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” ~ Muhammad Ali

I started boxing as a sort of last-ditch effort to “make it” in a sport. Well, that and the fact that I’d always been enthralled with boxing, and an injury forced me to retire from playing college basketball, led me down the battered and broken steps that were the gateway to my freedom.

I say freedom because I walked into the gym a scrawny, wiry, unconfident young man seemingly unable to gain any muscle or strength or power. After fighting 6 times, and learning the training secrets that had been passed down from my trainer’s trainer, to him, and so forth going back almost a hundred years, being tweaked and perfected with each passing of the torch, I walked away from the sport a strong, muscular, and confident guy ready to take on new challenges.

What astonished me most about my foray into the Sweet Science, which then led to me starting my own training business, was that the fitness industry hasn’t adopted training and nutrition methods from a sport that creates the most well-conditioned, and ripped athletes on the planet…

Until now.

The Sport That Creates Physical Perfectionchad-howse-264a

To understand how the sport of boxing created the perfect fat loss environment, you have to first know a little bit about the sport.

Boxing, in some form or another, dates back over 200 years. As the sport evolved, especially around the beginning of the 19th century with the Marques of Queensberry Rules taking effect (our modern form of boxing), the combatants were given gloves, and the sport was governed by weight classes in an attempt to make combat fair.

Weight classes are an important addition to the sport, of course, but for those of us who’ve always wanted to get ripped, the addition of weight classes forced athletes to squeeze as much muscle as possible into their fighting weight.

The result of said rule changes brought about a training camp where fighters not only have to get in great shape and hone their skill, but a training camp that typically lasts only 3 months, where fighters have to cut as much as 40 pounds of fat.

Ricky Hatton, for example, would cut 40 pounds leading up to a fight. All of that weight being fat he added on during his off-season spent in English pubs drinking beer and eating fish & chips.

Fighters know that if they can squeeze into a lighter weight class, without compromising their strength and power (muscle), they’ll have an advantage over their opponent.

Thus, the rules of boxing accidentally made fighters the most shredded humans on the planet. They’ve been figuring out how to do so for over a hundred years, while the fitness industry only came to prominence over the last 15 or 20 years.

So while I wasn’t able to get ripped doing the “fad workouts” and diets that are in the fitness magazines, the techniques that fighters – and their trainers – have been tweaking, testing, and perfecting for decades, worked like a charm.

chad-howse-146How I Built a Battle Ready, Ripped Body

When I started training at the gym, the workouts were hard, don’t get me wrong, but it’s when my trainer set me up with my first fight that things really got kicked into another gear.

That’s where the magic happens; in those 3 months leading up to a fight, the training camp.

Before my fight I weighed 178 pounds of chub and skin and bone. But the fight would take place at 165 pounds – here’s the catch, the fight was in one month, not three.

My trainer didn’t seem to mind much. He said he’d have me with six pack abs weighing under the 165 pound limit in 3 weeks, or so he claimed.

I didn’t believe a word out of his mouth. Though I was willing to work hard and try new (old school) stuff, I knew my muscle-resistant body was incapably of getting ripped.

So did he?

Of course.

I weighed in for my first fight at 164 lbs, with a nice set of six pack abs that popped out like an armor plating.

The training camp was intense, but the sessions weren’t long (only lasting 45 minutes). And, unlike other programs I’d done in the past, I never plateau’d.

In fact, over the next 5 years I never experienced a plateau because of the extreme variations that exist within a fighters training.

Here are four things we did to trick my body into burning fat but also gaining muscle:

1. We trained for power with explosive, heavy lifts that helped us build a foundation of rock hard, dense muscle.

Fighters lift weights primarily as a means to improve their power. We used explosive movements to gain this power, but the added result was a base of solid, rock-hard, metabolically active muscle that would help me – and every other fighter I knew – get ripped.

When I broke off and started helping people build their ideal bodies, these same old school secrets worked on weekend warriors, and average Joe’s as well. It boggles my mind how they’ve been kept within this small community of warriors for so long.

2. We manipulated our growth hormone levels by shortening rest periods and combining sets.

Lactic acid is a precursor to growth hormone. As you may know, much of your fat loss is dependent on your hormonal-health.

To be able to fight consistently for 3-minute rounds, we combined our weight lifting sets, and dropped the rest period to 30 seconds (you get 1 minute between rounds) to make our bodies recover faster.

Besides getting us in better shape, this also spiked our GH levels, helping us burn even more fat while maintaining our metabolically active muscle

3. We avoided plateaus by using extremely high reps to give our muscles yet another look that they weren’t used to with most training methods.

The best workout is the one you’re not doing.

That’s a theory that boxing adheres to in that boxers don’t relegate themselves to a single rep-range, but use everything they can to give their muscles different looks, avoiding plateaus and spiking fat loss in the process.

With every workout we’d end with 3 rounds of finishers that were timed, not counted. So you had to do as many reps in 30 seconds as you could perform.

By moving outside of the conventional rep schemes that you find in gyms, we were able to stay “plateau-free”, which was extremely important leading up to a fight.

4. We did upper body endurance training that helped develop broad shoulders – where mine used to be toothpick-thin – and a thin waist.

The ideal male physique has a V-Shape. That is, broad shoulders that taper into a thin waist.

The act of punching (be it a person, or a heavy bag) is the only form of “cardio” where you use consistent trunk rotation. This trunk rotation trims the waist down, removing excess fat around the belly, making your shoulders appear much broader than they actually are.

But I Don’t Want to Fight…

chad-howse-197You don’t have to.

After being immersed in the sport for a while, I went back to the big box gyms and saw how the public was training, but getting no results.

So I started taking on clients of my own, including some high profile athletes and actors, whipping them into shape without ever having to get in the ring and fight. I even had a bootcamp made up of people over 40, all of whom got in the best shape of their lives.

Like Ali said above, the fight isn’t won in the ring under the lights. The old school training methods that allow fighters to get ripped in only 3 months are the same methods that are your solution to softness as well.

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6 thoughts on “How Fighters Burn Fat & Keep Their Muscle

  1. I do consider all the ideas you have offered in your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for novices. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

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  2. Great information. I love all the posts, I really enjoyed, I would like more information about this, because it is very nice, Thanks for sharing. I like the site best.

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  3. It has been almost 8 years since I have boxed but this is definitely a good article to hear. Do you have a program that you could share.

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  4. I love you athletic work ethic, doing what you feel is right for really is life changing, Keep up boxing man.

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